Last night’s Oliveros at 80 concert at the EMPAC performing arts center, part of Rensselaer Polytechnic in Troy, New York, was simply the most astonishing music performance I have ever experienced. Pauline and her collaborators – Stuart Dempster, Brian Perti, and a host of guest artists, created a transcendent sonic experience.
The concert hall had been altered to sound like a two-million gallon, WWII-era water cistern with a 45-second reverb. Oliveros used a 32-channel loudspeaker system to capture and process the sounds of each of the instruments (electronically enabled accordion, trombone, digeridu, conch, voice and Dungchen, the long Tibetan horn that sounds like singing elephants.)
The result was a sound that was completely immersive, a sound that resonated the bodies of the audience as well as the instruments themselves. In the last piece, drummers from the school’s percussion ensemble were positioned around the balcony that surrounds the audience below. The result was a wild hive of sound that rose and fell in waves and felt, to this listener, like a “soundbodygasm.”
This performance had an almost liturgical quality, a feeling of deep, embodied ritual that took us within ourselves and at the same time connected us to each other through reverberation, heart and an experience of sound as bliss.
Today I am noticing how much more deeply I am listening and I have the feeling that I have been physically re-calibrated by the sounds from last night. As I was listening in the concert hall, I felt like my molecules were being directed to vibrate around my spine, as if I was being collected and spun.
If you have not experienced Pauline’s music live, you can find out more about upcoming events here.